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Introspection, searching as the calendar changes

08/08/2018 10:01:40 AM


Cantor Peter Halpern

This weekend, we turn the page to the Hebrew month of Elul, traditionally a month of introspective preparation for the High Holy Days. In the midst of a warm and beautiful summer, I wouldn’t expect most of us to be ready for that internal shift. I have noticed over the years though, that as a cantor, something does come over me around this time.
Two possible translations for “Elul” are the Aramaic word “Alal” meaning “to search” and the Akkadian word “Ulolo,” which means “harvest." I like both. During this time of turning, we sometimes know what we need to turn from, but not always what to turn to.

So, we may indeed be searching. We might also say that if we have lived in an honorable way over the past year, it is time to reap the harvest of our actions and our words. According to the literal interpretation of our Rosh Hashanah prayers, God is to decide soon how we will be inscribed in that Book of Life.
We will be hearing melodies we cherish and reciting prayers we have grown attached to. It is of great importance, I feel, that we hold in the forefront of our minds that God has compassion on us “as a parent shows compassion to their child." May the still, small voice be heard more strongly and often as we approach these Days of Awe. Wishing you in advance a Happy New Year!

Thu, August 22 2019 21 Av 5779